If you have osteoarthritis of the knee, you can take advantage of a wide range of treatment options. The effectiveness of different treatments varies from person to person. The choice of treatment should be a joint decision between you and your Orthopaedician.
The purpose of treatment is to reduce pain, increase function and generally reduce your symptoms. Patient satisfaction is a fundamental goal in treating osteoarthritis of the knee.
In its early stages, arthritis of the knee is treated with nonsurgical measures. Nonsurgical treatments fall into four major groups: lifestyle modifications; exercise; supportive devices; other methods.
Lifestyle modifications can include losing weight, switching from running or jumping exercises to swimming or cycling, and minimizing activities that aggravate the condition, such as climbing stairs. Many, but not all, people with osteoarthritis of the knee are overweight. Simple weight loss can reduce stress on weight bearing joints, such as the knee. Losing weight can result in reduced pain and increased function, particularly in walking.
Exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility as well as help strengthen the muscles in the leg. Physical therapy and exercise are often effective in reducing pain and improving function. Your physician or a physical therapist can help develop an individualized exercise program that meets your needs and lifestyle
Using supportive devices, such as a cane, wearing energy-absorbing shoes or inserts, or wearing a brace or knee sleeve can be helpful. Some research studies have focused on the use of knee braces for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. They may be especially helpful if the arthritis is centered on one side of the knee. A brace can assist with stability and function. There are two types of braces that are often used. An “unloader” brace shifts load away from the affected portion of the knee. A “support” brace helps support the entire knee load. In most studies, the knee symptoms improved, with a decrease in pain on weightbearing and a general ability to walk longer distances.
Other measures may include applications of heat or ice, water exercises, liniments or elastic bandages.